Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Not a family guy

I'm sure y'all have heard more about it in the rest of the country than you might like to, but here in Massachusetts its been wall-to-wall, non-stop, all Neil Entwhistle all the time on the TV and in the newspapers. That's the fellow who (pending a unanimous finding by a jury of his peers) appears to have shot his wife Rachel and their infant daughter in the marital bed before fleeing to his native England. (Unlike Harry Whittington, who had the good grace to apologize to Dick Cheney, Rachel's parents have yet to apologize to Neil.)

Anyhow, as with all such media feeding frenzies, some cultural criticism seems to be called for here. Although the rate has been declining, about 1,200 women are murdered by their husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends each year in the U.S. Women kill their male partners less often, about 300 times a year. Either way, guns are the most popular method. You can take a look at the trends in California here. Discussion of the reasons for the recent decline -- mostly lesser exposure in that divorce is more common and people are more often single, as well as improved access to domestic violence services -- is offered by some learned professors here.

So okay, out of thousands of man-kills-family stories, why does this one get the OJ treatment? We know why OJ got the OJ treatment, but this one featured a non-famous protagonist and no race relations implications. It did, however, happen in an affluent suburb in a family of middle class origin, complete with pictures of the victims just about glowing in the dark, and the expensive looking home with the faux-brick facade. (Actually, they were broke, and the house was rented, but the picture still looked good.)

Reporters, as a class, are intellectually lazy and irresponsible. That's all there is to it. The profession as a whole is in a disagraceful state. What is most disturbing is that they don't seem to realize that they have lost the respect of the public, and they aren't making the slightest effort to win it back.

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